N750m polynotes contract scam: Soludo granted bail, travel documents seized

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By SONI DANIEL, Regional Editor, North
…I was not arrested by EFCC— Soludo
After many hours of interrogation by its operatives, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, admitted the former Central Bank Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, to administrative bail  Thursday night.

But the former Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in Anambra State was asked to report back to the anti-graft agency on yesterday morning for further questioning. It was not clear if the renowned economist honoured the invitation after being asked to go home.

Also, the Imo State Finance Commissioner, Deacon Okafor John and Accountant General, Haeche-George, who were arrested over alleged N45 billion loan from Zenith Bank and diversion of local government funds were granted bail.

A source in EFCC confirmed the granting of administrative bail to the former CBN boss on certain conditions, which he did not elaborate.

One of the conditions for granting him temporary freedom was that he should surrender his diplomatic and international passports to the EFCC and to produce two sureties who should not be below the rank of permanent secretaries or directors in the Federal public service.

The source said, “Yes, it is true Soludo was released on bail around 9pm on Thursday but was asked to report back on Friday morning.

“We will continue to invite him for interrogation as the need arises since it is an ongoing investigation,” the official said.

Asked to explain the whereabouts of the other officials of the CBN and NMPCN, who were arrested along with Soludo, the source said that the other suspects were arrested and interrogated at different times, adding that they had made useful statements to the commission.

The source said he could not say what were taken away from the former CBN executive but that certain conditions were attached to his administrative bail.

*Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo

*Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, former CBN governor

Soludo was picked up from his Abuja residence on Thursday by operatives of the EFCC over his alleged involvement in the printing of polymer banknotes contract scam amounting to N750 million.

But Saturday Vanguard gathered authoritatively that Soludo’s arrest followed a strong petition by a group known as Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in May 2012, calling on the Commission to investigate the controversial contract awarded by the former CBN boss for the printing of polymer banknotes.

HEDA had alleged wrongdoing by Soludo and other Nigerian officials in the purported banknote printing and alerted the security agencies to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the multi-million Naira scam.

The petition had drawn  the attention of the anti-corruption agencies to the fact that the firm that reportedly got the job from Soludo admitted paying some N750 million in bribes to some officials of the CBN between 2006 and 2008 in order to secure the contract to make polymer notes for Nigeria, channeling the bribes through two British businessmen.

Soludo, a former President and some finance ministry officials were mentioned by the group as the beneficiaries of the graft.

I was not arrested by EFCC— Soludo
Former Governor of the Central Bank (CBN) Professor Chukwuma Soludo  has disclosed that he  was not arrested by the Economic and

Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as was published in some national dailies yesterday.

Soludo said he was invited by the EFCC to make clarifications on some issues on a matter under investigation.

According to a statement from Soludo’s media office dated 11th January 2013, the former CBN Governor voluntarily went to the EFCC office to honour the Commission’s invitation.

The statement which was signed by Bonaventure Melah said Soludo was neither arrested nor escorted to EFCC office by operatives of the Commission as was reported.

“We want to put it on records clearly that the media reports that Professor Chukwuma Soludo was arrested by the operatives of the EFCC in Abuja is totally false or to say the lease written in error.

“The fact of the matter is that the EFCC wrote a letter to Prof. Soludo inviting him to their Abuja office on the 10th of January 2013. EFCC’s invitation letter to Prof. Soludo was dated 20th December 2012.

“Prof. Soludo was abroad attending to several international engagements when the letter was sent to his aides. As a law abiding citizen of the country, Prof. Soludo returned to Nigeria in the New Year and honoured EFCC invitation on January 10th as requested. He voluntarily went from his home to EFCC office on Thursday. He was neither arrested nor escorted by any operative of the Commission.

The EFCC letter of invitation to Soludo states that “This Commission is investigating a case in which the need to obtain certain clarifications from you has become imperative.”

“It was a two- paragraph letter with also indicated date and time for the meeting between Prof. Soludo and officials of the Commission,’ the statement added.

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